Note. We wrote this back in April 2020 during the lockdowns we were experiencing in Australia. So much has happened since then. Usually, with a blog like this on a very specific topic that has passed, we would usually delete it or repurpose it. BUT, we have decided to keep it as it’s a reminder of some dark days, but it’s also a fabulous checklist to remind tourism & hospitality operators of the touch-points to update in an emergency.
Tourism and the Coronavirus
Perhaps more than any other sector, COVID-19 has brought tourism to a standstill thanks to the innate nature of an industry which ordinarily thrives on human interaction, and freedom to travel.
Decisions to restrict borders, limit travel and enforce social distancing measures are not only unprecedented but necessary.
The situation has forced restaurants, cafés, hotels to change their service offerings to takeaway or delivery, while others have had to close altogether. Accommodation, tours and other tourism providers such as cellar doors and tasting rooms have all closed for the foreseeable future.
And yet, despite all of this, thanks to its deep social footprint and the role it plays in our overall economy, the tourism sector is uniquely positioned to return to growth and stability.
During COVID-19 – Communication is Key
Tourism business owners may feel inundated with just dealing with the day-to-day of trading restrictions, as well as keeping customers and employees safe. But keeping in touch with your customers about how you are adapting, and evolving is crucial.
Because if they don’t know how to buy from you or support you, then you’ll lose them as customers.
At the moment, when we are only participating in ‘essential travel’, your customers want to know exactly where they can go and be confident they can get what they need.
So, as well as responding to the challenges inside your business – your top priority must be to update your customer touchpoints and online channels.
To help streamline this process, we’ve created this simple five-point checklist.
Checklist Item 1: Update Your Website
Greet your website visitors with immediate information on your trading.
Are you temporarily closed? Let them know. Have you been able to innovate and remain in business through takeaway or delivery? Show them the menu and how to order.
Don’t forget to update your trading hours too, for any upcoming public holidays or decrease in regular hours.
If using WordPress, there is are plugins like Corona Virus (COVID-19) Banner that enable you to add a banner or overlay notice on your site with a customisable message. You can also include a button to link to further information on another page of your website.
Greenock Estate Wines. COVID- 19 temporary closure notice.
Alternatively, you can change your home page and display a message from your team.
Criterion Tavern Gawler. COVID- 19 temporary trading restrictions notice.
Whichever option you go with, make sure that any statement you make is precise and kept up to date over the coming weeks.
Checklist Item 2: Update Your Google My Business Listing
Besides being the undisputed master of Search, Google has a suite of products that assist tourism operators run their business online:
- Google Maps
- Google Analytics
- Google Console
- Google Adwords
- And more!
The Google My Business listing is a vital tourism marketing tool as any updates you make will show on your profile on Google search results and Google maps.
Please Note: even Google is experiencing limitations thanks to COVID-19. They have recently stated: there may be to some restrictions to Google My Business features “to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices.” The functionality of some features may end up being delay during this time, such as creating or claiming new listings
What Can You Update?
Google is temporarily allowing businesses such as restaurants and cafes to add the words’ takeout available’ or ‘delivery available’ to their business name.
Plus Temporary Closures
If you have closed for now due to COVID-19, you can use a new Google My Business feature to make it as ‘Temporarily Closed‘.
Here’s how to do it:
How to Update GMB to Temporarily Closed
Checklist Item 3: Update Your ATDW Listing
The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) is Australia’s national platform for digital tourism information. Launched in 2001 as a joint initiative of Tourism Australia and all Australian State and Territory Government Tourism Organisations.
ATDW stores and then publishes your tourism information to State, Territory and Regional Tourism Websites and other travel-related websites and smartphone apps.
The reach is massive, and if you are in tourism, this listing is a must for your accommodation, event, food and drink offering.
At this point of writing, ATDW is asking you DO NOT cancel any listings, update your details.
A step by step guide is available here >> ATDW COVID-19 Listing Instructions
Checklist Item 4: Update Your TripAdvisor Listing
TripAdvisor needs no introduction to tourism operators, but what you may not know is you can change your listing to ‘Takeaway or Delivery Only” or if you are ‘Temporarily Closed’.
Similar to Google My Business, it’s a simple two-step process.
Update TripAdvisor to temporarily closed
Checklist Item 5: Update Your Social Channels
Your social media channels are the perfect platform to communicate rolling updates to your followers and continue to engage with them whether it’s letting them know about your new takeaway menu or delivery service, changes to opening hours, temporary closures, or any other ways you’ve innovated in your business to adapt to COVID-19.
With everyone advised to #StayatHome, you’ve got a captive audience of customers using their phones and devices to connect with the world.
So make sure you’re communicating with them!
You’ll also be pleased to hear, that thanks to a recent update, you can easily update your info on your Facebook business page.
On a mobile device, go to Page Settings > Page Info > Hours > and Select ‘Temporary Service Changes’.
From there, you can either indicate that your location is ‘Temporarily Closed’, or select from the options under ‘Open with Service Changes’, to specify changes explicitly relating to Online Services, Delivery and Pickup, or Other Changes you need to communicate with your customers.
Whatever you do – make sure you press ‘Save’!
One Extra for Good Measure!
We could all use a bit of extra luck at the moment, so why not add one more tip for good luck!
Do you have an email database? If yes – are you staying in contact via this valuable method too?
Much like social media, this is an excellent way to communicate rolling changes and to get your takeaway or delivery menu right under their noses.
And hopefully, you’ve already got email templates set-up to make it easy to send out a regular email.
Lastly – if you’re struggling, please reach out!
We know that you have a lot on your plates – because we’re right in the thick of it too, helping our clients ride the COVID-19 rollercoaster.
But this is crucial.
You can’t let your customers down by not telling them what you’re up to and if you are still trading. Or worse, you don’t want to lose customers because they can’t find out via their phone, device or computer how they can support you.
So, please reach out if you need help to update your website, manage your online presence, craft relevant social media content or your marketing strategy through this strange time.